• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

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    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    More 2 Kings Films

    Back in February, I made two posts discussing films that are based on material from 2 Kings. Shortly afterwards I decided to go ahead and order Sins of Jezebel to see what exactly it covered. I figured it might make an interesting post if nothing else. In the meantime, WitlessD found out some details about some, more obscure, films that are on parts of Kings, and emailed me the details, and Peter Chattaway also discovered a film due for release that might also touch on this material.

    Unfortunately I decided to delay posting more until Sins of Jezebel, and, sadly, it didn't arrive until yesterday. Furthermore, having had a quick scan it appears it's very much based on Elijah and 1 Kings rather than the second part of the book. So I probably should have posted this a month or two ago, but better late than never I suppose.

    The first film is a five part mini-series from Brazil called O Desafio de Elias (The Challenge of Elijah) by Rede Record and VMT Produções. It was directed by Luiz Antônio Piá based on Yves Dumont's screenplay. It aired on 5 consecutive nights on Brazilian TV back in 1997 (22-26 December). Guilherme Linhares played Elijah, Adriana Lessa (pictured above) as Ninra, Othon Bastos as Ahab and Sônia Lima as Jezebel (pictured below). WitlessD also sent me a description which I've had translated.
    The struggle of the prophet Elijah for the word of the God of Israel. It's around the year 850 BC and Elijah antagonizes King Ahab. Ahab is married to the flirtatious Jezabel, and influenced by the queen's construction of a temple to the false god Baal
    A year later Lima and the same producers, director and writer created a 10 part Esther mini-series A História de Ester.

    Then there have been two versions of Racine's 1691 play 'Athalie' (based on the story of the idolatrous Athaliah from 2 Kings 8&11 / 2 Chronicles 22&23). The first version, Athaliah, Queen of Judah, was filmed by Pathé Frères in 1910 and a couple of reviews of it remain to this day. Firstly an issue of The Bioscope dated 25 August 1910 (p.29):
    Athaliah, Queen of Judah, has gained the throne by the destruction of all the royal princes. Unknown to her, a tiny babe has been saved by Jehoiada, the priest, and brought up by him in the Temple of Jerusalem. Seven years pass and the people, weary of the tyranny of their cruel Queen, plead to God for a miracle in the form of the coming of a son of David.

    Athahiah has become a worshipper of Baal, and two of the priests of Baal are seen endeavoring to persuade her to destroy the Sacred Temple. But Athaliah dismisses her advisers and falls a prey to remorse and visions in which Joash, the new child king, appears to her. Athaliah resolves to satisfy herself as to the truth of the rumors of the existence of a royal prince. She goes to the Temple and finds herself within its sacred walls at the moment a sacrifice is to be made. Jehoiada drives her out, and the Queen decides to question Joash. Joash is unable to answer her questions, but his features convince Athaliah, and she decides that she must regain her power by arms.

    In the next scene we see he leading her warriors to the assault of the great Temple. She demands admittance, and the High Priest, allows her to enter alone. He has a curtain drawn aside and Athaliah sees before her the new King, seated on a throne, and surrounded by his adherents. She springs forward, but at the cry of the priest, hidden soldiers rush forward and force her backwards out of the Temple. Outside the people have gathered to acclaim the new ruler promised them, and Athaliah cries out for their allegiance. Their only reply is silence, which changes into cries of joy as Joash appears before the Temple, and as the queen rushes forward a thrust from a spear ends her life.

    The film is well staged, and carefully treated, and the numerous sub-titles clearly explain the story.
    The other review was written by Georges Fagot for the 8th October 1910 edition of Ciné-Joumal, (No 111). Again this is a translation:
    We have just seen the most perfect film that has, so far, been presented by cinematography, Athalie, directed and adapted by Mr. Michel Carré one of the most famous authors of the SCAGL ... An ingenious adapter and clever director Mr. Michel Carré was well qualified to be the chef-d’ceuvre-Racine, as illustrated by this film version from La Série d’Art Pathé Frères (original name for Pathé Frères
    Shooting began on 11 May 1910 and the film was released in Paris on 7th October 1910. The film was 410m/1352ft [361color].

    The second, Atalia, was an Italian TV version transmitted on RAI 2 in 1964. The cast included Lilla Brignone (Athaliah) and Roberto Chevalier (Jehoash). It was directed by Mario Ferrero, and aired on RAI2 on the 13th May 1964 (my birthday). Whilst it looks lie a few copies of the 1910 film remain the 1964 version was apparently wiped just a year after its release.Finally, Will Smith is due to star in The Last Pharaoh - which is actually going to be about Taharqa the last Pharaoh of the 25th Dynasty rather than Cleopatra (because that would be really strange). And, as Peter Chattaway points out, that might feature an appearance from Hezekiah and the events of 2 Kings 19 and Isaiah 37
    There is an interesting connection between Taharqa and the biblical history of this period. Scholars, it seems, have said that Taharqa may be the same person who is referred to in II Kings 19 and Isaiah 37 as "Tirhakah, the Cushite king of Egypt" -- a figure who is mentioned simply because he was "marching out to fight" against the Assyrian king Sennacherib while Sennacherib was laying siege to Jerusalem in 701 BC.
    Peter also lists some problems with that theory and wonders how the film may treat the different accounts in the Greek / biblical history (if it includes the incident at all).

    This post has taken me so long I've now not got enough time to sit and watch Sins of Jezebel. Oh well...

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